Transvestite Male Prostitute, 1846


NOTE: The following case was widely reported in the newspapers, from the Morning Advertiser, the Evening Mail, The Era and Bell's Life inLondon and Sporting Chronicle in London, to the Windsor and Eton Express, the Reading Mercury, the Oxford Chronicle and Reading Gazette, and the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, plus The Times and The Weekly Dispatch.


17 March 1846

BOW-STREET.
John Travers, a young man in woman's attire,was charged by constable A 56 with frequenting the public streets for an unlawful purpose.
          The constable deposed that he apprehended the prisoner on Sunday morning, at one o'clock, near the club-houses, in Pall-mall East. Having been informed that there was a man in woman's clothes in the habit of visiting his beat, he watched the prisoner, and saw him conversing with one or two gentlemen, with one of whom he walked to the end of the street. Witness spoke to him with the view of hearing his voice, and feeling satisfied that he was not a woman, he took him to the station in Gardener's-lane.
          Constable C 140 stated that his beat was in Vine-street and Piccadilly, where he had seen the prisoner in woman's clothes upwards of twenty times lately. He never once suspected that he was not a woman, although, from seeing him constantly in dark courts and alleys, he had often spoken to him, and desired him to walk on. He then unually walked towards Leicester-square. Witness had frequently seen the prisoner in conversation with gentlemen, and he had always believed him to be a prostitute.
          The prisoner, in an excited tone, denied the assertions of this witness, and abused him for what he called his abominable falsehoods.
          Inspector Partridge informed his worship that, from information whiuch had reached him, he had no doubt that the object of the prisoner and others' who had adopted a similar disguise, was either to rob, or to obtain money by practices of a revolting character. The prisoner had several associates, one of whom was brought to Bow-street a short time since upon a similar charge.
          It was stated that the prisoner was known at some house in Whitechapel, but the constable said that, on inquiring there, the man with whom he lived winked his eye, and said that "he was not born yesterday;" and declined to say anything respecting the prisoner.
          The prisoner defended himself by saying that he was merely indulging in a frolic, having made a bet with some friend that he would pass undetected in his attire.
          Mr. Hall said the case was open to a great deal of observation. It wasimpossible, after hearing the evidence of the inspector and the constable of the C. division, coupled with that of the other officer who apprehended him, to believe that he had assumed the garb of a woman for any harmless or mere frolicsome purpose. He had been seen for 20 times, at least, walking in the streets, and lurking in dark places and narrow passages. Believing him to be a woman, the constable had mrely remonstrated with him for resorting to those places. Late on Friday night, he was seen in conversation wiht an elderly man, and again on Saturday night he was found discoursing with two persons; and every man who had ever had any experience in life, adn who knew to what extent vices and crimes of the foulest nature prevailed in this great metropolis, must deduce from these circumstances the most unfavourable conclusions. In the hope, therefore, of checking these detestable crimes, and of protecting the public from the injury and contamination which they produced, he should require him to enter into his own recognisances for 50l., and to find two sureties of 25l. each, to be of good behaviour for the next six months.
          The prisoner then put on his bonnet, leaped nimbly out of the dock, and was heartily hissed on leaving the Court. (Morning Advertiser)

18 March 1846

. . . This was the second or third case of the kind which has been brought under the notices of the Court within the past few weeks. . . . (Evening Mail)

Saturday 21 March 1846

POLICE INTELLIGENCE.
BOW-STREET.
A MAN IN FEMALE ATTIRE. – On Monday, a young man named John Travers, who was dressed as a female, was placed at the bar before Mr. Hall, charged with loitering in the public streets.
        Constable 46 A division, stated that shortly after one o'clock on Sunday morning, he saw the prisoner in conversation near the Union Club house, with a gentleman who parted with him in a few minutes. Witness then came up, and asked his name, in order to hear his voice and get a view of his countenance under the lamp. He was then told that he must accompany witness to the station, but the prisoner dared him to lay hands on him. Witness had within the last six months received information that his beat had been frequented by a man in female attire. – Mr. Hall asked the prisoner what object he had in appearing in the streets in such masquerade? – The prisoner replied that he had been at Greenwich with a few friends, who laid a bet with him that he would not appear in public as a female.
        A constable of the C division, whose beat is in Piccadilly and the neighbourhood, said that he had frequently seen the prisoner, dressed as a female, loitering about the streets.
          Mr. Hall remarked that this case was open to a great deal of observation. The prisoner had been seen upwards of twenty times lurking about in dark and narrow passages, and frequently in conversation with other men. Every one who had had any experience in life, and knew to what extent vices and crimes of a most abomnable nature prevailed in this large town, must deduce from those circumstances the most unfavourable conclusions. To protect the public, therefore, from the injuries which these men inflicted on society, he should require the prisoner to enter into his own recognizances for 50l., and to furnish two sureties of 25l. each, to be of good behaviour for six months, or to be committed in default.
          The prisoner then put on his bonnet, leaped out of the dock, and retired amid the execrations of the court. (Reading Mercury)

Wednesday 25 March 1846

A MAN IN WOMAN'S CLOTHES. – On Monday, a young man named John Travers, who was dressed as a female, was charged at Bow-street, with loitering in the public streets, supposed for some unlawful purpose. It appeared that the prisoner had been observed to accost several gentlemen in the street. Mr. Hall asked the prisoner what object he had in appearing by night in the streets attired in such a manner? – The prisoner replied, that he had been at Greenwich with a few friends, who laid a bet with him that he would not appear in public as a female. – Mr. Hall said that such a charge required a very minute inquiry, for the purpose of arriving at the object of such a proceeding. – A constable of the C division, whose beat is in Piccadilly and the neighbourhood, said that he had frequently seen the prisoner dressed as a female, loitering about the courts and alleys, and supposing that he was a woman of the town, he repeatedly ordered him to move on. – The inspector informed the Court that an associate of the prisoner had lately been examined and convicted on a similar charge. – Mr. Hall said that it was impossible, after hearing such evidence, to come to the conclusion that the dress of a female was assumed through a mere frolic, but as a cloak to conceal crime. He should call upon the prisoner to find bail, himself in 50, and two sureties of 25 each, that he be of good behaviour for the next six months. – The prisoner, upon hearing the sentence, put on his bonnet, and was hissed by the bystanders on leaving the Court. (Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser)


SOURCE: Various newspapers, dates as given.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Transvestite Male Prostitute, 1846", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 28 November 2018 <http://rictornorton.co.uk/eighteen/1846tran.htm>.


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